Overview of the Collection
Scope and Contents
Overview of the Collection
Collection Title: Charles Weeks Collection
Weeks, Charles, 1873-1964
Physical Description: 0.42
Language of Materials:
Abstract: In 1909 Charles Weeks pioneered what was
then a new method of raising poultry, by concentrating birds into coops. In 1923 he
established a small farming community in Owensmouth known as the Weeks Poultry Colony.
This collection is comprised of various publications which document the activities and
lifestyle of Charles Weeks and the farming community he helped create in the San
Charles Weeks was a visionary in the world of poultry and communal farming. Born on an
Indiana farm in 1873, Mr. Weeks grew up with a thorough understanding of farming and
farm life. In 1904, Mr. Weeks moved to Los Altos, California with a plan to raise
poultry on a ten-acre farm he had purchased there. Unfortunately, due to inadequate
water supply, Mr. Weeks' Los Altos farm was doomed to failure. In 1909, Mr. Weeks
moved to a five-acre farm on the outskirts of Palo Alto, California. It was here that he
established new methods of raising poultry, concentrating birds into coops. Previous to
this time, it was a commonly accepted farming practice to raise chickens in large, space
consuming, chicken runs. The "Weeks Poultry Method" of raising poultry in
compact houses became so successful that visitors from all over the world began arriving
at Mr. Weeks' farm to study and learn his method. William E. Smythe, a socialist
utopian, promoted his vision of independently-owned farming communities after visiting.
Weeks in turn adopted these ideals and established his own version of a utopian farming
In 1916, Mr. Weeks established the "Weeks Poultry Colony," also known as
Runnymead, on land near his Palo Alto farm. With a heavily promoted motto of "one
acre and independence," Mr. Week’s experimental utopian community grew quickly,
housing 400 families by 1922. Adding to the success of the colony was his monthly
magazine publication called
Intensive Little Farm which
attracted new buyers to the area and kept the area thriving for years, peaking at over
1,000 citizens by the mid-1920s.
In 1923, Weeks moved out of Northern California and engaged himself in actively
promoting a new colony in Owensmouth. He had been invited to the San Fernando Valley by
the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce in 1920 to establish a series of one-acre farms in
the area that would emulate the success of his Los Altos "poultry colony." The
colony Mr. Weeks created eventually developed into a small farming community, which
actively engaged in uplifting the spirit of its members, and aided in the social,
intellectual and artistic enlightenment of the region.
Unfortunately, the Great Depression and the dramatic downturn of the Los Angeles economy
drastically affected both the Owensmouth and Runnymead communities. By 1932, many of the
farms faced bankruptcy and Mr. Weeks himself lost almost everything. With the failure of
the poultry colonies, Mr. Weeks relocated to Florida, where he lived out the remainder
of his life growing papayas, raising fishing worms and skin diving. Charles Weeks died
in Florida in 1964 but the impact of his communal experiment can still be seen in some
areas of both Palo Alto and Winnetka.
This collection is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.
Genre/Form of Material:
San Fernando Valley
(Calif.) -- History
Poultry industry -- California -- San
Robert G. Marshall, November 1985
Jennifer M. Grimsley, October 2004
Conditions Governing Use:
Copyright for unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s)
of this collection has not been transferred to California State University,
Northridge. Copyright status for other materials is unknown. Transmission or
reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond
that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners.
Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of
the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.
Conditions Governing Access:
The collection is open for research use.
For information about citing items in this collection consult the appropriate style
manual, or see the
Citing Archival Materials
Scope and Contents
Charles Weeks Collection is comprised of various
publications which document the activities and lifestyle of Charles Weeks and the
farming community he helped create in the San Fernando Valley. While the earlier
publications trace the beginnings of the Weeks Poultry Colony and Weeks' fondness
for nature, the later published materials (particularly newspaper clippings) stress his
allegiance to health and fitness. Also highlighted in these publications are the
histories of Owensmouth and Winnetka, California as they developed under the influences
of the Weeks family farming plan. The files are arranged in alphabetical order by title
and chronologically within.